Home improvement

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Husband and I have decided to do lil something something around the house. It needs so revamping. We have lived here for 6 years and have never changed the original decor. A little while ago we got new bedroom furniture (ill do a separate post on this sometime), so we went shopping for living room furniture today. We drove over the Ben Franklin bridge to cherry hill, nj. We checked out Macy’s furniture gallery on route 38 (actually all of the following are), Ethan Allen, and raymour & flanigan. We ended up purchasing a lovely set at the last place (raymour & flanigan) in the color “vintage,” a slate gray that will compliment our exposed brick wall well.

Of course I took the opportunity to take photos of myself, ya know, cause I’m vain like that hehe. I kiiiiiiiiiiid but seriously how fun is it t do a little photo sess every once in a while? I know a lot of bloggers who’d agree like skinny runner! Hahhaa anyway, here is the evidence…

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Half Marathon Training BEGINS…

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Monday!  Hopefully…(avert your eyes for gross picture below)

Sprained ankle...on your right

Bum arm from bike accident

my injuries will NOT derail my Half Mary training any more than they already have!  When we left for the cruise I was in good (not great) shape for the beginning of training.  I wanted to continue my training on the ship, hence my run on day one at sea that resulted unfortunately in my sprained ankle.  Since then, I’ve been “cross training” keeping it to low impact exercises like the elliptical, Cybex or Bike but maintaining my “on your feet time” for at least an hour to be in the groove of half Mary training.  But, in all honesty, my ankle kinda hurts still.  It is tender and doesn’t feel great.  Bummer.  SO my plan is to stay off of it this weekend (I rested Friday and will do so Sat and Sun too) and then try for a lil’ 4 mler on Monday.  I have to just feel it out and see how it goes.  NOT running this half marathon is NOT in my mind at all.  Oops!  I totally forgot to mention which Halfie I’m running:  the ING on September 18, 2011!


I am SO excited because I have never ran a Rock N’ Roll Half and I hear they are a BLASTY!  I also really LOVE running through my city!

SO I have run two half marathons previously; the Philly Half last November (2010)

and the Disney Princess Half in late February 2011.

Anyway, unfortunately I only have about 9 weeks to train for this Half Marathon so I hope that my current “OK” level of fitness carries me enough. Most training plans, especially my favorite, Hal Higdon’s, require 10 or more training weeks.  Understandable.  But I’ll make due with what I have.   And unfortunately, due to Philadelphia’s forecast, I forsee a lot of treadmill-ing in my near future 😉  OK, so I’m off to enjoy a riveting Lifetime movie with my ankle propped up on the couch…don’t judge.  Isn’t that how the “cool people” enjoy Saturday afternoons?

Vacation Recap: Norwegian Gem Cruise July 2011

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So, I consider this our first “real cruise.”  Definitely Husband’s, sorta mine.  In college I went on a very short “Rock Boat” cruise with some of my favorite bands, but this was different.  It was a BIG Cruise 7 days to Bermuda!  We absolutely LOVED out experience on the Norwegian Gem.  The service was amazing, the staff impeccable, the ship magnificent, our room just perfect!  Here are some highlights:

Our Room, Especially the Balcony

The inside was more than sufficient, but the outside?! Now THAT was incredible.

The view was incredible and we loved chilling out there at night star gazing.

We had a LOT of photo ops on the balcony:


I actually read an entire 399 page book while on that balcony 😉  it was so good!

(Source)

The Various Restaurants

OK, so I thought naively that cruises well ALL inclusive…by “all” I mean ALL.  Not so much.  Neither alcohol nor soda is “free.”  In fact, Husband and I got a “soda package” that was about 7 dollars a day per person that allowed us “bottomless FOUNTAIN soda” not cans (which sometimes waiters served anyway and then you had to pay.

RANT:

Waiters do NOT like waiting on customers who have the “soda package sticker.”  They will downright ignore your order and walk away!  It is very rude and kinda sucks.  Some people just don’t or can’t drink!  We can still tip!

All in all I thought the food on the ship was so-so.  Minus some of the nicer restaurants that had a surcharge, I felt that the food was bland and not always fresh. I guess that is to be expected of a cruise ship that serves 4,000 people for 7 days straight without supply replenishment.  Anyway, some notable restaurants (all below had a minimal surcharge of about 10-15 dollars per person) were:

Tequila Latin Tapas 

Husband was especially excited for this place because his favorite Philadelphia restaurant is called TequilaS and he LOVES him some Mexican food.  I, myself, not so much, but I made do.  So all in all, Tequilas of Philadelphia definitely wins out, but this was OK. We started out with loaded nachos and chicken taquitos.  Husband got a beef burrito and I got “lobster soft tacos.”  They were good, but I was pretty sure they took the lobster meat in cream sauce from our meal the night before (see below) and threw it in a soft shell.  Luckily, I enjoyed last night’s meal 🙂

Le Bistro

This French hotspot was my absolute favorite on the ship.  From start to finish it was magnificent, including the cute ambience, gorgeous view and impeccable service.  I started with an AMAZING four cheese cream of mushroom soup and then had the lobster (out of the shell).  This was no typical lobster, people.  This lobster was smothered in something creamy and french that I don’t want to know what it consisted of.  It was delish.  In all honesty I can’t remember what Husband had since I was so consumed in my own gluttony delicious meal.  I think he started with the french onion soup.  In any case my camera clearly ate the pictures 😉  It was sooooo good though.  Trust me.

Cagnes Steakhouse 

This was my second favorite restaurant and this first we visited on the ship.  I had a delicious lobster bisque to start with and then the strip steak with fresh mushrooms and mushroom sauce…and then I turned into a mushroom. hehe I kid.  But it was DELISH!  Husband had the strip steak as well and I forget what to start with.  But I think the star of the meal MIGHT have been the apple crumb cobbler with vanilla ice cream that I had for dessert.  YUM.  Cue the mouth watering.

What we did on the ship

One might think “wow, 7 days is a long time to be on a ship, what did you do?”  Which I wondered as well.  Let me share some ways we soaked up the 7 lovely days (besides eating our face off- see above)…

–  The Thermal Room at the Spa- see THIS POST for more on this

– Worked out- until my ankle became useless due to my misfortune on the ship track

– Read/Relaxed a LOT on our balcony (oh and photo-opped hehe)

– Hung out by the pool with the fam or in the quiet area (sun deck) where we got accosted for our daybed several times

– Gambled at the casino (yup, this gal can get some itchy palms!)

– Took a backstage tour of the boat (which unfortunately ended in me=seasick) but was quite interesting and probably deserves its own post

– Had drinks at the many bars on the ship, our favorite being the champagne/piano bar and continued my love affair with PROSECCO!  (I said it like that each time- Pro-SEC-ooooooooooH hahahahah)

By the way, according to this site,

There are many differences between prosecco and champagne, though both wines come from Europe, are effervescent, and tend toward a dry rather than sweet flavor. Yet each is limited by definitions placed on it by country, and while there are many brands of each type produced, they have to be produced in very specific ways. Some other differences include aging and pricing.

First, champagne has a specific definition. It is effervescent wine made in the Champagne region of France. It can only be produced there and all other wines that are effervescent are sparkling wines. Even when the champagne giant Louis Roederer, known for Dom Perignon and Cristal, began to produce champagne-like wines in the Anderson Valley in California, these could not be called champagnes. Instead they are sparkling wines because they are not made in the designated French region. This doesn’t make such wines inferior, but it does mean they’re not champagne.

When considering prosecco, there are some similarities. Prosecco obviously cannot be champagne since it is made in Italy. Like champagne, real versions of this sparkling wine are limited to being produced in a specific region of Italy called the Veneto region. A person can’t make this wine anywhere else, even if he uses the same grapes and the same process.

I THINK I had the Aneri (brand) Prosecco

And just like that, friends, the cruise was over.  I was nervous that I would get sick of being on the boat for 7 whole days; I’m known to be quite an antsy person, but I didn’t really feel an itch to get off until the last day (which I’m sure was not helped by my vomitous seasickness).  And somehow I forgot in my post of blunders, the final “cap on the whole trip!”  So we get priority disembarkment; Husband wanted to get to baseball.  Fine, I was definitely ready to get back to dry land; so 8:15 am prompt, Husband arrives to our car, runs back to where I am anxiously waiting with our luggage, and the CAR IS DEAD!  ARGH!  No, we did NOT leave anything on as I am sure you are wondering.  BUMMER!  So I flag down this lovely gentlemen also disembarking from the ship, and ask him to give us a jump.  He obliges and guess what?!? His car is dead! ARGH again!  So the port authority men end up giving us a jump with their mobile jump box. They said this happens a lot when cars are sitting for a week or more.  Awesome.  Needless to say, I kissed the ground when we got home, but we have MNAY awesome memories of our July 2011 Cruise!

 

 

The SPA- Norwegian Gem

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The Spa.  OH the spa.  It definitely deserves its own post.  Although I was unable to receive any treatments (we were scheduled for a couple’s massage but I got seasick, yuck) we did get a “thermal spa” pass which gave us access to the amenities.  Oh the amenities.  We definitely got our money’s worth, especially after our insane bike ride!  The spa, called Mandara (I believe it is actually a chain) was at the bow of the boat and offered incredible views.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Vacation Recap: Bermuda July 2011

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Hi there!  I hope you enjoyed the rediculousness of my last post highlighting the various disasters that I ran into (literally) while away on vacation.  I plan on recapping the rest of the vacay (the wonderful parts) in two posts: one on the cruise itself and one (this one) on Bermuda.

Bermuda Day 1:  The BIKE!

So, being a wuss, I was completely against renting scooters as tourists traditionally do in Bermuda.  I had heard too many horror stories of broken bones and body casts and wasn’t about to risk my life…so I insisted that we instead rent peddle bikes.  You know, like bikes you ride on the street, or at the shore.

Right… great idea (note the sarcasm).  I have NO ONE to blame but myself for the accident (read the previous post for details) but other than that, the day turned out really neat.  I will admit, the 18 or so mile ride was quite rigorous (hilly and hot) death defying, thrilling, but gorgeous.

Gee, maybe I crashed my bike because I, Ansel Adams, thought I could photograph WHILE riding…

We actually found an amazing rail path that had been used long ago that was free of cars but plentiful in scenery that kept us safe for about 8 miles.

Fun with the self timer (even among the injured!)

Husband and I decided to call it a day (finally) after stopping at a beautiful beach called Church Bay to lounge for a bit.

Church Bay

We were both starving so we pulled over to a local (tourist) spot to grab lunch.  Now, I mention this because let me tell you; Bermuda is SO expensive!  I got a cheeseburger, Husband got fish and chips, and we eat got a diet coke.  65 bucks.  YUP.  Ya heard!  Can you believe that?!?!  Anyway, we finally made it back to the dockyard to the safety of our boat.

Night view

The plan for that evening was to meet Ian’s family (who happened to be on our cruise unbeknownst to us prior- HOW FUNNY and AWESOME?!?) and take a ferry into Hamilton for a street fair.

Given the “size of our party” we inevitably missed the ferry but definitely made up for it by visiting the local hot spot, the Frog and Onion Pub at the dockyard.  Although it was another heart-attack of a bill 😉  we had SUCH a good time with the family and here, I believe, my love affair with PROSECCO began!

We seriously had SUCH a good time

"Adult" (yea right, who are we kidding) Table

Kids table

And it was here that the cutest picture known to man was taken:

Then, the goofy “couples shots” and “other” ensued:

Note the arm bandage and ankle brace...cute.

The Husband was getting prematurely undressed hehe LOL! I kid!

Yea...none of us got ANY sun...especially the irish ones 😉

Back on the ship that night, we saw the Cruise band play a 70s rock set on the pool deck.  Good times continued…

DAY 2:  Snorkel!

OK, so I pooped the bed on this one and didn’t bring my camera, but the Husband and I went out on a catamaran and visited a shipwreck site as well as many coral reefs to snorkel around.  It was the BOMB!  Initially I feared what it might do to my various wounds (suspicions confirmed:  it hurt) but it was really neat!  We saw some AMAZING fish.  And continuing with my amazing luck (NOT) I was unable to wear flippers due to my ankle injury (kicking on my own felt much better) and therefore kicked into the coral, hurting the bottom of my foot. YAY.  It was a MINOR bump in the road comparatively 🙂  Anyway, it was gorgeous.

Day 3:  Time to Chill (Before I injure anything else)

Husband and I decided to lounge at the man-made beach at the dockyard.  We figured staying closer to “home” (ship) was a good idea at this point, and the ship was scheduled to leave port at 5pm.  So, we went to said beach for a few hours until we couldn’t take the sweltering anymore and we decided to visit the onsite museum and old military fort.  This was RIGHT up Husband’s alley.

Included in admission was the option to see dolphins!  We got a little peek, but then we had to go because of time (and heat!).

I’ll admit; the whole thing was kinda cool…
And just like that, it was time to get back on the boat and sail back to New York…stay tuned for a Cruise recap!  Oh, and one or two more “gone wrongs!”

Bad things DO happen in 3s…or 4s…or 10s?

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Let me first start our by saying that this post is in NO way meant to be an “oh woe is me post” but rather a comic review of a “series of disasterous unfortunate events” that I’d like to share with you prior to posting a true Cruise re-cap.  Becuase in all honesty, we had a WONDERFUL vacation (the Husband and I keep joking that is was the worst best vacay ever or the best worst vacay ever LOL).  And I plan to do a full recap of the marvulosity (just made that word up but love it) and amazingness of the trip MINUS the mention of the following blunders that occurred.  It is VERY funny, by the way, that the last post I wrote before leaving was entitled “Cruisin’…hopefully not for a bruisin.”  OK, are you ready?!  Buckle your safety belts people, it was a wild ride 😉

1.  On day 1 at sea (Monday), I decided to take a jog with the Husband on the onboard jogging track on the 12the level (the second highest).  Well, it wasn’t the BEST idea…

a.  The wind was fierce at times and the ships movement went against your gate at times throwing you off and making you feel like you had sea lead legs.

b.  The track was about a foot wide.  Need I say more?

c. The track went through highly populated public areas (think crowd watching a men’s sexy leg contest…yup) so you had to weaving in and out and run as if you had car breaks.  ‘Scuse me just wasn’t working.  People definitely scowl at you when they’re trying to down their spare ribs and you’re whizzing around (dodging) them singing mouthing the lyrics to “Imma Be.”  Nice visual, right?

d.  Workers were trying to paint the space between the tracks’ lip (see e) and the edge of the ship so I had to pass them every lap around (5.5=1 mile) and I felt TERRIBLE about it, like such a nuisance.

e.  OK, the lip- the track was a lovely squishy rubber one but had a lip that went down about an inch to concrete that went to the edge of the ship (only about a foot more, but with a hand rail)

Right, so speaking of the lip…I don’t know if a wave came or wind and severely rocked the boat so I lost my balance, or if I was veering around the many basketball spectators, but my foot went off the track at the lip and turned under .  It hurt SOOOOO badly!  So I shake it off; the basketball ref even saw if asked asked if I was ok.  I wanted to keep going- I was having a lot of fun other than having to weave in and out of people;  the view was magnificent, the wind refreshing, and the people-watching plentiful 🙂  Anyway, a the this point, Husband came by and informed me he was going to stop.  It was kinda crazy.  He was kinda right (number one of many times I am to blame for the various mishaps on this trip).  Anyway, I do what any stubborn idiot would do; I run two more miles.  Honestly, ankle felt fine.  It didn’t even occur to me to  ice it.  So the next morning, (duh) it is the size of a golf ball.  Awesome.

The boat convenience store does NOT sell ace bandages.  Awesome again. So long story less long short, the ship medic gives me a cool brace thing, ace bandage-like but better.  They didn’t even charge me because it was deemed a “ship injury.”  They had to log it as they do for all injuries they have to report.  Anyway, I iced it on and off for the rest of that night, but knew that in the morning I was going bike riding, so I used the wrap the next morning.  Speaking of bike riding, here comes number two.

2.  On the first day in Bermuda (Wednesday) Husband and I decided to rent PEDDLE bikes (rather than scooters because I was being a wuss…again, my fault-numner two if you are counting) and bike to a beach.  We knew there was a rail path about three miles away that didn’t allow cars that we could take to a beach and chill.

So about 3 miles (of course) into the bike trip (which was thus far hilly, narrow streets with busses whizzing by and driving on the other side of the road and in one word death-deying) I rode my bike into a wall while trying to get up onto a narrow sidewalk to avoid the traffic.  My lower arm took the brunt of the fall, followed by mu knuckles (couldn’t fit my rings on- awesome) then my upper arm (just minor scrape and bruise).

FYI, we immediately biked to this beach about a half mile away where I went into the water to cleanse my wounds.  Smart, no?

It was so cool how we could just pull our bikes over and take take dip in the ocean.  Gorgeous.  Bermuda is lovely.  Anyway, we then went to a drugstore and got Bactine, antibiotic ointment (like Neosporin), and bandages.  I have dressed my wounds like crazy and am in constant fear of infection.  I’m a hypochondriac.  No.  Really.

3.  OK, this one is minor, but still…on day 2 in Bermuda (Thursday) we went snorkeling to a shipwreck and tons of coral reef…that I stepped on and burt the bottom of my foot on because I couldn’t wear the flippers that made my bum ankle hurt.  Awesome.

4.  The last day at sea (Saturday), the boat went through a really bad storm with 65 mile an hour winds and 18 foot waves.  Needless to say, the boat was super rocky and many people; including myself, got seasick.  Yup, me with my sea bands and me, who took Dramamine, vomited.  A lot.  Awesome.

5.  Suffice to say, I was eager at this point to get home, although I really DID enjoy the trip…I think I was worried about what might happen next LOL!  So we get off the ship, get to our car, and…dead. Yup, battery dead.  You might ask what was left on, but Husband checked everything before we left for the cruise to make sure nothing was.  Uh-huh.  So I see this man walking to his car who was on our cruise and I asked if he could give us a jump.  He says, “sure.”  He gets to his car…it’s dead.  Awesome.  The port authority ended up having jump box and was able to jump us; they said this happens a lot with people leaving their cars for a week or longer.  So with the jump, my dashboard somehow completely blew out.  This meant we drove all the way from NYC home (to PHL) not know how fast we were going (good thing husband was driving) or how much gas we had.  Again, Awesome.

OK, so I definitely used to thing bad things happened in threes…hmmmm…. But seriously, some of these things are downright funny.  Sort of 😉  Tell me of a trip disaster you experienced!

Cruisin’ (hopefully not for a bruisin’ hehe)

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Ok so we are currently on our way to NYC to board our cruise to…Bermuda!!!! (ps the pic above is me showing off the minuscule bottle of banana republic perfume I got for the trip that I thought I was getting a deal on…uh yea). Anyway, I am super excited although I’ll admit a bit apprehensive about leaving the pups. I already miss them. But I know that our good friends Ron and Joe will take amazing care of them while they stay at our home for the week…I mean I definitely bribed them enough hehe. No seriously. A little “hostess with the mostest” goes a long way.

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My Summer

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Ok, so I feel like I spend a LOT of time explaining my MIA-ness or where I’ve been.  Let’s just skip that and go with the following:  It is my summer, guys!  Yay!  So, while my full-time job is on hiatus until late August (gotta love the summer of a teacher :-)) I am still part-timing as an Adjunct Professor for a local Graduate School of Ed.  Love it.  Point though, the summer is NOT all fun and games…just mostly 😉  Hehe.  I’ve been spending a LOT of time with these chickadees….

And yes, the backyard is our favorite place as of late.  I try to pretend like I’m doing work.  Hehe.  Anyway, as for my fitness routine, I have been keeping up with Cardio (sounds like a new reality show akin to Keepin’ up with the Kardash…) via an hour a day on the Cybex trainer and a bit on the recumbent bike.  Yesterday I even threw in a mile on the dreadtreadmill.  Here are some reasons for my easing up on running lately:

1. It’s gettin’ hot in herrrrrr…seriously, Philly summers can be hot and humid, leading runners like me to flock to the treadmill in refuge of the heat, but this, as well all know, can not only be boring, but bad on the joints after a while.

2.  My shin is acting up.  YUP, been not willing to admit it, but the stress fracture in my left shin is a hurtin’.  This means rest before my “leg snaps in half” per my brother in law.  Whatevs!

3.  LOVE my IPAD!  Really hard to run and play with my NEW ipad (thx Husb!), so low impact is the name of my game!

4.  Weird appetite.  In this heat and the summer in general, I tend to be less hungry and therefore eat less.  SOOOOO I need to adjust my fitness levels accordingly. Yes, I like to get in a good steady sweat for at least an hour, but “running on empty” just doesn’t work.  If you are wondering, my recent eats have looked a LOT like this lately:

I wanted to mention, since I haven’t had a chance to blog about this yet, that before my shin started acting up I was doing some amazing trail running!  I began running a 5-mile loop (that I still haven’t quite figured out and end up doing a loop around and back) at the Audubon Society at MIll Grove in Audbon, PA.  There are other trails that pick up there as well, like the Schyulkill River trail.  Anyway, I just love it.  So peaceful and great to be with nature when living in the city.

How beautiful is this?

OK, so moving on…I’ve been doing some other fun things this summer, like this:

Messing with...I mean bathing Addie

Go Phils! Look at the incognito Husb:)